World Cup Soccer Betting Advice: First-Time Winner Prop with Expert Predictions
BetOnline has a World Cup prop that is interesting to look at. As it turns out, it likely isn't particularly attractive to bet, but the process of exploring it is interesting - and will fill the days and weeks and months until the World Cup kicks off. Besides, what are you going to do - spend time handicapping the USMNT's roster? (Too soon? - I'm a Canadian so we are always terrible at soccer, so I have to take my shots while I can.)
On to the prop. The question is simple - will the winner of this World Cup be a first-time World Cup winner? The "no" side is very heavily favored at -400 with the "yes" at +300.
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Only eight countries have ever won a World Cup. One, Italy, caused immense consternation and despair at home when they failed to qualify. The other seven are in the field, though. Here's a quick look at each, with the number of prior World Cup wins and their odds to win the World Cup this year at BetOnline:
Brazil (5 wins) (+500): They are proverbial contenders, and they are currently ranked second in the world. Brazil doesn't always reach their full potential - they fell short at home last time out - but they are always talented and dangerous.
Germany (4 wins) (+450): They are the defending champions, and they again come into this tournament ranked No. 1 in the world. They are very legitimate favorites to win the tournament.
Argentina (2 wins) (+600): Argentina currently ranks fourth in the world and will always be a popular pick among casual bettors. It feels like there is a significant gap between this this squad and the top two, but they are still not a team anyone will want to play.
Uruguay (2 wins) (+2500): Their two wins are very impressive, but the last one came way back in 1950, so it isn't particularly relevant. The team is currently ranked 17th in the world and just doesn't feel like a real factor here.
France (1 win) (+600): France had to rediscover their identity as they worked through a transition between generations earlier this century, but they won an elimination game at the 2014 World Cup and lost in the finals of Euro 2016, so they are on the right track. Currently ranked seventh in the world.
Spain (1 win) (+700): The Spaniards won two Euro championships with a World Cup sandwiched in between, but last time out at the World Cup they were shockingly knocked out in the group stage. They followed that up by losing in the round of 16 in Euro 2016. The talent is still there, but Spain needs to again prove that they can be truly elite. They are ranked eighth in the world.
England (1 win) (+1600): England won their World Cup in 1966 and have made a science of underwhelming ever since. They are what they have been for too long now - a team that should be better than they are. They have talent to draw on but are only ranked 12th in the world.
So, by betting the no side of this prop we are betting on the five betting favorites in this field, a mid-range contender, and a reasonably live long shot. That's a top-heavy group, and this is mostly a top-heavy tournament. The last two winners of the tournament were ranked second in the world heading into the tournament, and Brazil was third in 2002. The other two winners in the last five were ranked seventh and 12th. Long shots really struggle to shine here.
So, how about the 25 teams that could all be first-time winners. Is there enough there to make the +300 price attractive? It depends upon how you look at it. On one hand you get third-ranked Portugal, fifth-ranked Belgium, sixth-ranked Poland, 10th-ranked Peru, and 11 th-ranked Switzerland. That's five teams ranked higher than the lowest-ranked winner in the last 20 years. That sounds good. But only until you look deeper.
There are always some issues with how teams are ranked internationally, and those issues have never led to more truly bizarre rankings than this year. Every one of those teams mentioned is over-ranked, with Belgium being the least egregious. All you have to do to see the problems is look at the World Cup futures odds for those teams. Portugal is at +2500, which puts them in the realm of long shots despite their high seeding. Belgium is +1200. Poland is at +4000, which is a long, long way from what you would expect from a sixth seed. Peru is at +15000, so they are a massive long shot. And Switzerland isn't that much better at +8000. So, while these teams are well ranked, they just aren't seen as that competitive, and they certainly don't justify that +300 price.
Long story short, you can't bet the yes side of this prop. But it was fun breaking it down, wasn't it?
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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